Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year from Costa Rica!

Spencer said he really enjoyed several delicious Christmas dinners with members =)

With Elder Guirola

Temple Trip just before Christmas

Skype with the family on Christmas Eve =D
His English is quickly going away! He spoke Spanglish and couldn't remember some English words haha

​We invited his best friend over too.  Coby will be serving in Texas beginning in March, Spanish speaking!

In 2 days, I have the opportunity to dedicate every single day of a whole year to the Lord.
I've been reflecting a lot lately. And learning a lot.
I thought this week was really rough, but then I realized 2 of the days were Christmas (24th is super celebrated here) so I guess it was just Thursday that I was really down. But I was really, really down. Our numbers were low, we weren't seeing miracles, it was tough.

Friday, that changed. We saw miracles as I was willing to do things against my nature, and against 'my way'.
Saturday followed with miracles. Sunday as well. Yesterday too.

I want to focus on Thursday, and Friday. I was feeling so down, just unworthy to be training Elder Guirola and I felt like I had too much responsibility. I felt burdened down.
The Lord has made my burden light. Actually, it's a scriptural promise that as we follow his will, he will make our burdens like and our backs strong enough to carry them.

In Mosiah 24, there is a people who Followed Alma into the waters of baptism. They had been living in peace for a little while, when the Lamanites came and took overpowered them. The man who was, specifically, in charge of the People of Alma outlawed prayer, with the penalty of death.

This people, who had left their lives behind to follow the Lord, were now being constricting in their ability to praise that very same Lord. I can not imagine a burden harder to carry. In verse 12, it says:

And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
They did all they could. All though they couldn't raise their voices to the Lord, they did pour out their hearts and asked, begged him for help. They shared their worries with the Lord, and asked for him to come and relieve their burdens.
In the following verses, it says:

And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

God does not forget his promises! He never leaves us alone. In whatever circumstance we might find ourselves in, we have his promises through obedience to his commandments. Later in the chapter, they were indeed delivered out of bondage through a miracle. But look at what the Lord says, look how he always gives us more than we expect, and look at why he gave them so much more. Verse 16 says:

And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.

Because the people were satisfied with what the Lord gave them, and willing to endure faithfully until he fulfilled this promise of deliverance, their day of deliverance was move forward. Because they were willing to sacrifice, they were blessed. this is a principle that we see many times throughout the scriptures. For example, Abraham. He didn't have to sacrifice anything (besides some time walking up a mountain), but it was his willing heart that qualified him for the blessings of the Lord. The Lord knows the intents of our hearts, and when we have learned what we should have learned from our challenges he will complete them.
They continued to prepare faithfully, and then were delivered. Once they safely arrived in their land, look at their response! They did not say "Finally, I can rest for a bit!" Or "Man, that sure was a hard trial!" Instead, they immediately gave thanks. Verse 22 says:

And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God.
They gave thanks. All their men. All Their women. All that could speak lifted their voices.
This scriptures is far more easy to apply in our individual lives then it seemed when I first read it. Even though we are only one person, we can give thanks to God for our blessing with all.
We can thank God with all of our thoughts, all of our actions, and all of our words.
Most of all, we can thank God by repenting of all of our sins. Small, Big, Serious, or Trifle, they are sins.

As we start a new year this week, we have the opportunity to set goals. Each of these goals (generally) is an action plan for repentance. Maybe it's to start reading the scriptures every day. That's repentance. Maybe it's befriending somebody we've insulted. That's repentance, for sure. Or maybe it's returning to what we know is true, but have long left. That's repentance.
Let us repent. Let us change. Let us follow through with our Commitments, our promises, to God this year. Let 2015 be the best year of your life, by giving your life to the Lord completely. By dedicating Every single day to the Lord.
I love you all so much. Have a wonderful new years. Remember that you are children of a loving God, and he's there to deliver you from your tribulations!!!
-Elder Henry

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I'm forgetting everything!

Elder Guirola got to meet his Grandpa!

We have matching suits! (what are the chances?!?!) (just different colors, both same plaid print haha)

Sorry there's not been many pictures this week, I have not had time to think to take pictures with getting used to being a trainer haha.
Oh man, I LOVE being a trainer. But it is really hard on my brain haha I feel so scatter brained. If I don't write it down then it's lost for eternity hahaha.
My companion, Elder Guirola, is AWESOME! it feels like he came pre-trained! hahahaa. Yeah he doesn't speak any English and already my Spanish has gotten soooooo much better. A lot more confident just conversing now and understanding is way easier! :) it's great. He's great. He's seriously the bomb. We went on divisions his first day haha because somebody needed a blessing. I was freaking out the whole time hahahaha. Also, don't know if you can tell in the picture, but we have matching suitjackets. WHAT!!! Hahaha. Just that his is brown but the design is the same.
Elder Guirola is amazing. He was baptized 3 years ago even though his family didn't want him to be (they were very catholic). He decided to go on a mission even though he was the only member in his family. Then, about 2 weeks before he left, his mom was baptized :) His (only) older brother is receiving the missionaries along with his dad. He's amazing and is out here on a mission for all the right reasons! :)

We have just been seeing a ton of miracles here in San Ramon. One that sticks out is an investigator. A friend of hers, Saida, who's a member, invited her to the Christmas devotional. While she was there, Saida took her on a tour of the Church building. When they walked into the baptismal font room, the friend felt a strong impression from the spirit. Even though she was catholic, she felt that she needs to be baptized. Then, after that, the Christmas devotional really touched her heart. The words spoken there rang true to her, until she was in tears. We're meeting with her to help her prepare and everything, but she has a baptismal date of the 3rd of January. Also, we're going to start teaching her family (3 daughter and one son in law). It's amazing that she's going to be baptized all because a friend invited her to a church activity.

A new video was published last week, called He is the Gift (I think, that's translating from Spanish). It's a beautiful video all about how our Jesus Christ the real gift and how we need to accept him into our lives, and that that's what Christmas is really about.
There is the link to the video. As I've watched it over and over again I've realized how precious it really is. There's a spirit about Christmas and it's one of the sweetest things I've found in my life.
This Christmas, I'm not going be to spending with my family. At first, I though that that I was going to be pretty sad on Christmas. Now, I know that's not true. As I've accepted Christ more and more into my life, as says the video, I've come to understand what Christmas is about. I'm going to spend my Christmas serving, just how Christmas should be used. It's not about receiving the gifts, rather about serving other, just like how Christ has served all of us, and given all of us the opportunity to live with our Heavenly Father again.
Families can be together forever. As we accept Christ in our lives, our families will become more unified on this earth and we will have the opportunity to be unified through the eternities.
I love you all. Have a great week! Enjoy your Christmas breaks :)
-Elder Henry
Meeting Elder Guirola

A couple more goodbye pics

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I'm having a baby!!!!!

I'm Pregnant! I'm having a baby!  Hahaha. In mission culture, whoever is the first companion of a new missionary is called his trainer but also normally called his "dad". So, I'm having a baby! It's a boy! Hahaha. I will get to know him tomorrow :) I'm super excited but super nervous. It's a lot of responsibility.
     So, these last few days have been basically purely goodbye parties with Elder Ritchie haha. It's been pretty wild, I don't think I'll realize that I've lost one of my best friends until Thursday or Friday.

Elder Ritchie's Goodbye dinner with one of the families they love :)

Last picture of our district before changes!

Andres had a nice goodbye surprise for Elder Johnson and Elder Ritchie haha (flour)

He didn't get away with it free, though!

 Goodbye dinner with one of our awesome families

One of our recent converts! 
     I've had a pretty crazy last 24 hours. Yesterday we went to one of our investigators, who has 2 sons. We got there at about 5 PM and they were getting ready to leave with a taxi waiting. Turns out that one of the boys got in an accident and was in the hospital. They operated on him yesterday, but the mom told me that it looks like he'll be fine.
     Then, at about midnight, another of our friends texted us saying that her Father, who's been in a care facility, had a heart attack and was in the hospital. She asked us if we could go give him a blessing of health.
As a missionary, we have the opportunity to feel Charity, The pure love of Christ, toward a lot of people. I spend my days looking at people thinking of what they could become, what God wants them to become. I have a profound love for both of these people, and can not begin to explain how worried I am. And I am so grateful to be a servant of the lord and have these opportunities to love, and help others.
     These last 24 hours have put me to think a lot about the Truth that families can be together forever.
Mosiah 16:8 reads:
But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory,and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
     I love this scripture so much. As these family tragedies have been passing all around me, I've realized how precious the gospel really is to me. Death has no sting. The grave has no victory. It's really true.
     Today, I say goodbye to my companion Elder Ritchie. We've been companions for almost 4 months now. I spend more time with this man than I did with my siblings, than most married couples do actually. All day every day, we have walked, talked, and taught together. We've lifted each other up, we've made mistakes, we've supported each other. I love him so much. Words can't explain the connection we have!
And today he leaves me. He goes back to his home, his family, his friends, his loved ones. It's wonderful! But for me, it's a little rough. I'm not going to be able to see him for some 20 months still.
     Saying goodbye to somebody for a long time is difficult. It hurts. In Spanish, we would use the word "costar." It means to cost, like in the way a hill costs you a lot of energy to climb. Saying goodbye to Elder Ritchie for this time is going to cost me so much emotionally, it feels like I'll be losing a piece of me.
     But I'll see him again. We'll see each other again! And our joy will be so great in that day.
     Because I know the truth that all of us will be resurrected one day, I can say the same thing about my loved ones who have passed on. It's tough, it hurts, it truly costs me to think of how long it will be before I get to meet them or see them again, but one day my joy will be full as I see them. That is what the scripture means when it says that the Grave has no victory. It may hurt, and it may cost us to even go on, but I know without a doubt in my mind that we will see each other again after this life. That there is hope to change in this life, to become perfected in Christ, and to be able to live with our Loving heavenly Father and our Family, the fundamental social unit of our human experience, forever.
     Death has no sting. There is always a hope waiting for us to discover. As we get on our knees and talk with our Eternal Father, we will discover that hope. That's a promise from me, but more importantly, from an all powerful and all knowing God.
     Please pray for our friends who are in the hospital, that they can get better. Also if you can pray that I can find new investigators. Our pool is pretty small right now :(
     I love you all. Have a great week!
-Elder Henry
His Christmas tree ;)